November 17, 2012

The Most Liked and Tweeted Photo of all Time – Part 2

A week ago, we posted our thoughts on “the most liked and tweeted photo of all time.” Excuse us (or others) for “hanging on,” but this scene, the original an instant icon, seems to be bucking for meme status.  As sweet as it is that photojournalism legend David Burnett has produced the mirror (or “the sister”?) version in which we  see the loving embrace from Michelle’s perspective (Slate backstory), this second photo provides plenty of symbolism on its own.

Obama Michelle bear hug

As the reverse angle of the viral image, what the photo does (like a pair of rings, yes?) is truly marry the couple in visual space. Of course, some (maybe up to 50%??) would say that this image is just as vital or more so, given the critical strength Michelle contributes to her husband’s zen and the couple’s balance. (As always, I’m looking forward to your take on the pair and their dynamics.)

A hat tip, by the way, to @RussellPhoto, for alerting me to a telling fact about the “most liked” one revealed in Slate’s interview with photographer Scout Tufankjian. Although most people who saw the tweet on election night assumed it was taken that evening and celebrated the win, I appreciate the photo/s better knowing it/they were taken several weeks before. It’s a clarion example how pictures can attach themselves to moments in defiance of calendar time.

Oh, and regarding the meme…. I couldn’t let the subject go without the example of The Economist‘s politicization of the pic. (What happened to The Economist, by the way? We used to post their covers all the time in the Bush era. Somewhere along the line, though, they got left in the creative dust by outfits like Businessweek.) Discouragingly, the cover echoes the inaccurate and disingenuous Romney attack that Obama doesn’t do “bipartisanship.” Talk about issues dating the photo… the title makes the cover almost four years late! Doesn’t The Economist remember all that soliciting of the Republican leadership (1 and 2, just for starters) while getting this kind of nonsense in return?

If this appropriation of the photo merits any reply, it’s both “go with the love” and “been there, done that.”

(photo 1: David Burnett/Contact Press via Slate. photo 2: Scout Tufankjian/Obama for America via Slate)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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